The accuracy of the frequency response measurement obtained using impact excitation and a Fast Fourier Transform based spectrum analyzer has been investigated. It has been shown that with impact excitation, provided the impacts are reproducible and the extraneous noise level is low, the coherence estimates obtained from the analyzer are unity, irrespective of the frequency resolution employed. Hence the H1 (Sxy/Sxx) and H2 (Syy/Sxy*) frequency response function estimates are identical. However, these frequency response function estimates are affected by a bias error caused by inadequate frequency resolution so unity coherence does not necessarily imply accurate results. The results with impact excitation are compared with those obtained using random excitation where both the coherence and frequency response function estimates are affected by bias error. The bias error in the frequency response function estimates with impact excitation is intermediate between that in the H1 and H2 estimates when random excitation is used. The theoretical predictions have been verified by tests on an analogue computer and on a built-up structure.

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